More than a decade has passed since lead generation was the only accessible way for candidates to research franchisors - learning about the concept, contacting the development team and requesting additional information to vet interest. For brands, this streamlined the process because in order to obtain detailed insight into the franchise, candidates had to give the franchisor personal contact information.
This process shifted as these materials became more readily available. Much of what once had to be requested privately can now pop up in a simple Google search, and the majority of this documentation is not original content supplied by the franchisor. Candidates can pull information from third-party sources, public relations pieces, and reviews to formulate an opinion through independent research.
This is where content marketing platforms, like 1851 Franchise, can play a major role by boosting content, targeting and increasing engagement to create brand validation.
“What makes 1851 Franchise so unique is that it provides the third-party content that candidates tend to utilize to gather their information,” said Sean Fitzgerald, 1851 Chief Development Strategist. “It’s a way to get people looking at a brand to begin their due diligence process.”
According to Fitzgerald, there are essentially two types of candidates. The first explores franchise opportunities in the early stage, waiting to jump depending on timing. The second is an engaged candidate that is typically willing to sign a contract within 90 days.
“The problem is that everyone (franchisors) spends their time trying to find a 90-day candidate, but more often than not, that candidate has already made up their mind on which franchise concept they’re going to join. Franchisors are spending so much money trying to vet out this candidate, and it can be a huge waste of money,” he said.
The goal of 1851 isn’t to reach the 90-day candidate, instead, it works to introduce a brand to a potential candidate that may be five or six years away from a purchase. This gives the brand the opportunity to gather information and gain engagement from entrepreneurs that are exploring the idea of owning their own business.
“With 1851, we are able to target demographics and behavior to track results,” Fitzgerald said. “Through behavioral tactics, like pay-per-click, we can promote an article in target development markets to get in front of potential candidates that have the necessary experience and capital.”
Marketing tactics like advertising can be effective on impulse buyers, but franchising is not an impulse decision. Because of this, advertising tactics are getting harder and harder to reach potential candidates. Content marketing works to break this barrier because it’s not a traditional advertisement – it’s an article that supports the brand’s mission.
“Content marketing is very powerful,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s what candidates look for because they don’t want to be sold something, they want to be educated. Because of this, 1851 provides the storyline from a third-party perspective, helping to build legitimacy and engagement if managed properly.”
This can be a huge benefit to brands that may have trouble defining what they do through traditional advertising or may not be perceived as “sexy” concepts. Instead, the focus turns to the franchisees success and personal stories to create a real-world connection with potential candidates.
While lead generation is key to the success of franchisors, it’s new development opportunities sparked through content marketing that have Fitzgerald fired up.
“We’ve seen success with smaller, start-up brands and well-established brands like the national cleaning franchise, Jan-Pro. Through content marketing, Jan-Pro was able to secure an international deal because we drove awareness about an opportunity. It’s the affirmation that someone in the process needs and inspiring to know that our platform can provide that type of service to a brand.”